Fashion show highlights African-American history

Helping children became fashionable Friday night as members of the Mu Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Black People’s Union strutted their stuff for charity in their seventh-annual fashion show.

This year’s theme, Through the Years, emphasized an African-American past to commemorate the turning of the millennium.

This is one of our traditional programs, said junior Nicole Andrews, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and usher at the fashion show. Our purpose is basically to serve our mankind.

For the BPU, the fashion show is part of Black History Celebration, an eight-week salute to the contributions of African Americans. The historical aspect of the show added to the commemoration theme, Embracing Our Heritage, Wrapped in Pride.

Beginning in the swank era of the 1920s and 1930s, the show chronicled fashions from various decades of the 20th century translated into modern styles. Out of the Harlem Renaissance whirlwind of creativity emerged the high-fashion tailored suits, long coats and hats of the models in the first scene, Renaissance.

Other scenes represented the glitz of the 1940s, when Hollywood began to recognize the talent of African-American actors and the musical stylings of Cap Calloway, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

Glamour and glitz is still part of our culture today, show coordinator and master of ceremonies Peta-Gay Lewis said, as the models sashayed in sparkling dresses and tuxedoes to delight the crowd in the packed Marvin Center Ballroom.

As Martha and the Vandellas’ Heat Wave filled the room, models in swimsuits and beachwear met thunderous applause just before the show’s intermission.

Tonight, we will make history with our own beach scene, Lewis said.

The scenes Right On and Fresh showcased more modern fashions that embraced the 1970s and ’80s.

Senior Jocelyn Yankey, fashion show chair for Alpha Kappa Alpha, said ticket sales for the evening raised about $1,500 for Grandma’s House, which provides special homes in Washington, D.C., for sick infants and children, including those who have been exposed to HIV.

The charity is for kids with HIV, Yankey said. To me that’s a very important cause. A little bit always helps out.

The 27 models showcased hundreds of outfits with the help of several local stores.

It was through the miracle of my sorority sister Michele (Charles), Yankey said of how the outfits were lined up.

She wants to be a fashion designer, and she’s really good at talking to the stores and influencing them to help, Yankey said. She is a miracle worker.

Yankey said this year’s show had a particularly unique theme.

I think I liked it because we really tried to educate the audience, she said. Compared to other shows, we’ve never tried to do that.

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